|Centurion (Roman Legion 8) by Simon Scarrow|
|Category: Historical Fiction|
|Reviewer: Jill Murphy|
|Summary: More punchy action in Simon Scarrow's long-running Eagle series. This one sees Macro and Cato pitted against the Parthians and a traitor from their past. Historically accurate and great fun, if a little light. Think Cornwell's Sharpe, not his Arthur.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 352||Date: March 2008|
|Publisher: Headline Book Publishing|
Palmyra, a tiny desert kingdom, separates two mighty powers - Rome and Parthia. Relations between the two are more than frosty, and a full-scale face off isn't far off. Rome fears a Parthian invasion, so the Second Illyrian cohort is sent to safeguard the Palmyrian royal family and protect its borders from incursion. In turn, their presence incites the Parthians and our heroes Prefect Macro and Centurion Cato respond to the inevitable raids in their usual forthright manner - they head straight into enemy territory.
But Parthia isn't their only problem. Macro and Cato also face a threat from a traitor in their past...
And off we head into the eighth adventure in Simon Sparrow's remarkably successful Eagle series. They're incredibly popular and have attracted a wide range of readers from young to old. My twelve year old son is a huge fan, yet so is my sixty year old mother. They're plot-driven and full of action - most of it violent - but they are also tremendously vivid, with a wealth of historical background detail from politics, to food, to social structure, and particularly with regard to Roman military organisation and tactics.
These books are light, easy reading. Although the historical detail is wonderfully accurate, and most of the time the characters display the sensibilities of the time, the occasional anachronism does slip in, particularly in the diction. Scarrow is often compared to Bernard Cornwell, but you should probably think more of Sharpe than, say, of Cornwell's Arthur trilogy. And they are great fun. They belong to the great tradition of inserting lowly characters into dramatic historical events and showing lives led away from the great and powerful. Think Flashman, Sharpe, even the recent HBO sexed-up series Rome. I'm all for books with everyday people in them, especially history books. And it gives writers room for some humour too. There's a deal of the rough-and-ready sort of humour in Centurion and Cato finally gets a new love interest after the death of a previous girlfriend early in the series.
Centurion also sees Macro and Cato getting away from the espionage of the last couple of books in the series and back to what they're really good at: fighting. There's enough blood and guts to sink a battleship here, plus lots of lovely background on Roman military tactics. And all in the best possible taste of course.
My thanks to the nice people at Headline for sending the book.
You can read more book reviews or buy Centurion (Roman Legion 8) by Simon Scarrow at Amazon.com.
Like to comment on this review?
Just send us an email and we'll put the best up on the site.